Talks with Tolkien artists: hwaetmere

25 min read

Deviation Actions

MirachRavaia's avatar
By MirachRavaia

This week I finished a longer talk with :iconhwaetmere: - hwaetmere. Her gallery, titled very accurately "Tolkien fantasy", is full of Elves, especially Thranduil and his family, but also other characters. Several of those scenes you won't find in Tolkien's book, because they are illustrations for fanfiction stories. That's what we talked about, too, among other things...

Oropher in the days of Doriath by hwaetmere Oropher before the battle (*I see the light*) by hwaetmere Thranduil (*The fire suits you*) / Lee Pace by hwaetmere
(Dark Blue Lite) Thranduil / Lee Pace by hwaetmere Thranduil's nightmares (*The fire suits you*) by hwaetmere An equestrian portrait by hwaetmere
Lady Helwen (*I see the fire*) -original character by hwaetmere fairy Thranduil (*I see the light*) / Lee Pace by hwaetmere Thranduil / Lee Pace. diptych by hwaetmere

Hello! For the beginning, could you tell us something about yourself?

Hi everyone!
I'm Ira, I live in Saint-Petersburg, Russia, and work in IT company as chief analyst. I have no art education whatsoever and draw as I can. So drawing for me is a purely hobby, although I've been drawing since I was a child, and I still look with love at my kindergarten drawings, but you will not see them, because they are naturally bad.

What brought you to deviatArt and how did you pick your username?

Wow! I now checked how long I was on the DeviantArt. It's only 6 years, but it seemed to me much longer. Although most of first downloaded I subsequently deleted. Now there're very few old drawings left.
When I first came, I wanted to show my talent to the world, not only to Russia. Then I didn't look at someone else's arts and didn't appear on the site for several years. There was a big break. And then I changed direction and created only digital horses, but two years ago I went back to the fact that I love drawing the most - to the human faces.
Now I see a lot of other people's arts, and a variety of styles and fantasies amaze me. Most of the times, to be honestly, great arts and cool authors cause me not only a sense of admiration, but more about this later, if you ask about the "cool authors" on dA.
As for username... My serious Internet life began in 2003 with the russian tolkienists forum (, where a company of like-minded people created a sweet local role-playing games. My character of elven origin needed a name. It was necessary to act quickly, and I just chose two words from Sindarin, phonetically, it seemed to me, suitable to each other. Lexically it was complete nonsense, and I will not tell you what these words meant. And then the development of game led to the fact that my character was on permanent residence in Rohan, and it was required to adapt her name to rohirric. I just translated Sindarin into Old English. Over time these two words (the "name" and the "surname") have merged into one word, and since few know what the Old English looks like, for most people my nickname looks like a meaningless set of letters. And I'm really sorry for those who try to spell it out loud.

So when your "serious Internet life" began, you have already been a Tolkien fan. How did you enter Tolkien's world for the first time, and what impression did it leave in you?

The first Tolkien's book I read was, of course, the Hobbit. It seems we were given it in school. At that time I was reading much more serious books, and the Hobbit didn't impress me, besides there were very controversial illustrations... In general, the book took a place on the shelf, and I didn't know anything about the Middle-earth before the age of 13.
In the summer of 1996 I was staying at a dacha with friends, and someone brought a strange book. I don't remember the cover at all, because the content interested me more. It was the Lord of the Rings in one volume. In the end, for some reason, the Hobbit was added, too, and as it seems to me now, that Hobbit had another translation, maybe more adult and more correct...
So, I read the book in two days. I sat on the veranda and held this exploding new world in my hands. It was a revelation for me, really.
In a couple of years I got a Silmarillion and read it five times in that year. And then the world heard that LOTR will be screened...
Now we can smoothly move on to how dear to me (along with the Professor's texts) are the visual masterpieces of Peter Jackson.

Alright, so how dear are they to you? :D (Big Grin) What creates the picture of Middle-earth in your mind and influences your imagination more?

The first thing I have to admit to love the way PJ chose the actors. I don't have any questions for the castes of both trilogies, no, wait, there is one: Peter, are you from future? Landscapes and computer graphics - this is already the tenth thing, but I'm in perfect admiration for the external images of the characters, so it gives me real pleasure to use the actors' faces to represent what I want, and no image has ever conflicted with the fact that I represented at reading.
Books help understand the characters, imagine what they can say or do in different situations. Films give an external picture. Therefore, I can honestly say that I am equally influenced by both.

Who is your favourite Tolkien character and why?

This is an interesting and difficult question.
When I was just reading the book, I liked Eomer the most, well, horses and all that severe steppe life, you know... But in the films this character is not present enough, and in the first one he's not there at all, and my attention has gone to Legolas. Now it's hard to believe, because I draw him very rarely, but I continue to love him. In the book in whole of the Fellowship Legolas is the strangest and seemingly alienated member, and this is a little strange, although I must admit it's intriguing.
But the most Tolkien's intriguing and strong character for me is an yet unscreened Thingol, and for a long time I didn't dare to "give him a face".
Yes, if you look at my gallery, you can see that 70% of the drawings portray Thranduil. And yes, I love this character very much, but, let's be honest, Tolkien has very little information about him. Therefore, I can't call him the favorite character of books. Rather, I love his fandoms image (thanks to PJ) and the way he is described by my favorite author of fanfiction (Ilverin). And, of course, Lee Pace is one of my favorite actors, faces, types etc.

If the movies are giving you the visual for Middle-earth, what about the Silmarillion and other Tolkien's books? Do you think it would be a good idea to make it into movie(s) as well, and would you like to see it?

I will be happy with any adaptation of Middle-earth, whoever created them. Of course, ideally I'd like to see Peter Jackson as the head of the whole process, but other visions, in my opinion, can not be needless. I'm in favor of more screen versions and more popularity for this universe (here I want to thank Christopher Tolkien for continuing to update and publish his father's texts. Damn, this is so cool!)
And if it turns out that something in the visual plan doesn't coincide with my ideas, it will not be a tragedy, because there will always be books and my imagination.

What about fanfiction? Illustrations for it are a big part of your gallery, so how do you perceive the stories from Middle-earth written by fans?

There are different stories. You can write how three-legged elves conquer space in a winged canoe, and it will be fun and authentic, or you can describe the typical inhabitants of Middle-earth, whose actions and thoughts will cause a constant reader's "what's going on?" Not "WOWhat's going on", but "WAT's going on" And it doesn't depend on how much my headcanon coincides with the writer's.
I like AU and crossovers (in illustrations, too), although, of course, there is very little Tolkien's spirit in all this, but what to do, this is the law of the genre.

How would you define this "Tolkien spirit" in fanfiction? And if that's not what's important to you, what is? What qualities needs the story to have, while still qualifying as Tolkien fanfiction, to pick your interest and make you draw illustrations?

This is subjective perception. We all feel the books' characters in a certain way, and if in the fanfic they looks alike, for me it is the "Tolkien's spirit". But it doesn't mean that I'll want to draw it. I don't have specific illustrations for the original texts. For example, Thingol or Oropher are just pictures of characters in some approximate period (wandering in the forest, or Doriath, or Eryn Galen).
I usually draw something that suddenly and strongly appears in my mind. Or comes in dreams. Of course, I've known Tolkien's texts so long that such inspiration almost doesn't come from them, but fanfics can impress me much. In addition, there are so many illustrations on Tolkien's texts that I don't want to repeat or create the twentieth version of the same scene. But that doesn't mean that I don't want to draw portraits. For example, I already promised myself to add to Thingol Finwe and Ingwe from the same "under stars" time.

"I see the light" and "The fire suits you" seem to be the stories that inspired you the most. Can you tell us a bit about them?

Oh, you even looked at the titles! It is very pleasant for me, because these works are almost like my own, and these are the first not mine texts that I so much wanted to portray.
These stories are two stretches of Thranduil's life, during the days of Doriath and Eryn Galen. Of course, there is a lot invented and not everyone will like the love line, but the writer and I are fantastically coinciding with the perception of theTolkien's world and Thranduil himself, and this is amazing and rare! Now the writer is experiencing a creative crisis, so I finally have time to illustrate other fandoms and my own writings, hurray! No, in fact it's not very fun, and I'm really looking forward to continuing these stories.

Is there some topic in Tolkien's works that you are particularly passionate about?

Hard to say. I never singled out for myself any red lines in Tolkien's books. Rather, I perceive the history of Arda entirely as a kind of reality (with many topics and problems, as it should) - and this is exactly what fascinates me most.
Today in literature there are so many different worlds, but I know for sure that they are all fictional. And with Tolkien's world everything is different with me. Despite the objective fictionality, it seems to me (even in my already not very young age) that all this was (or is) for real.
Probably, this is the main thing that fascinated me and continues to fascinate till now.

What other book or movies (or anything else) inspire you to create fanart, and why?

I'm a Trekkie girl, really. But I have so few StarTrek artworks that it's hard to believe. I hope that this will change, because I almost don't see arts on this fandom in a style similar to me. Maybe I'm looking bad? Can someone help me out?
I learned about StarTrek thanks to my beloved Karl Urban. Before the Reboot this universe wasn't so popular in Russia - only TV shows of the 90s were broadcast, and it was a long time ago, I missed it. I liked these characters in the new movies, their stories, humor, all scripts. Then I, like all the newly-converted, returned to the roots and looked TOS. Of course, there are funny looking today special effects and scenery, but the main thing is not in this. The show, which is more than 50 years old, still surprises. The themes that are raised there, they are topical, they are bold, there is much to think about. It was lost in the new movies, so sad...
In general, yes, I hope I will have more StarTrek arts in future.

With books it's all more difficult. If the book is popular - it already has a million illustrations. I don't really like to offer readers my (and a hundredth different in fandom) image of the character, if it doesn't have a screen or a writer's version. Thingol and Oropher are not considered, because they are more drawn because the fanfics of Ilverin.

In addition, I've always loved and will continue to love to draw famous people, actors first. And it can be characters from any movie or actors on their own.

What art technique is your favourite? Do you rather keep to the art techniques and styles you are familiar with, or do you experiment with new ones as well?

In the past two years I've been experimenting a lot with different materials, tools and styles. And, it's strange, I've been afraid of colors for so many years, that the fact that I can create not only black-n-white pics, has become for me a stunning discovery.
My parents are both artists, just like me, amateurs without education. My mom never used colors, she only recently began to try something, as I do. My father was more of  painter than graphic artist. Unfortunately, he hadn't time to teach me how to handle colors, only showed the basics of chiaroscuro, and I remember these lessons all my life. So for 25 years I was exclusively a graphic artist (I don't consider digital horses as real painting, there are other principles).
Think, I made my first adult work in color only two years ago! Now my arsenal of tools consists not only of a pair of pencils and an eraser, it takes up a whole desk.
But with the style I haven't decided. I think I don't have it. Or my style is the lack of style. I tried to do some styling, but I so like realism that these experiments failed.

Do you have some tips and tricks you would like to share with the other artists and hobbyists?

It seems I don't have any common tricks or tips. I personally need a soundtrack for  the process. If there is no suitable music - there will be no drawing, or I will do it painfully long and often mistaken.
One thing I can tell everyone: the more you try, the more you can. But all artists know this without my advice.

Could you tell us, which
- Tolkien illustration you are most proud of?

Thranduil / Lee Pace by hwaetmere
With this drawing I started to draw Tolkien's world consciously.

- original picture or picture from other fandom you are most proud of?

Ethir (*I see the light*) - original character by hwaetmere
Despite the fact that this work is in the Tolkien's fantasy section, this is an OC and can belong to any world. I like how the armor turned out. I'm really proud of this work.

Eddie Redmayne by hwaetmere
I usually don't like drawing hair and don't like the way they do it. Here the hair turned out perfectly :) (Smile)

- picture fits your current mood?

Thranduil / Lee Pace by hwaetmere
I'm on vac, relaxing like a hero in the picture, which I want to all the - adult - readers :) (Smile)

- picture was hardest to paint?

rainbow Thranduil / Lee Pace by hwaetmere
I drew these hairs for almost a month. In a week I hated them. I finished the drawing, but I still remember the feelings.

- other picture you would like to share with us and why?

new for the High King by hwaetmere
For today this is my last completed drawing, and it contains the most different tools. A very large amount of tools, I don't even believe that I was able to combine so much. And this is most intriguing character of the whole Legendarium for me.

Would you like to thank somebody here? What key people in your life, (on or off of dA) have been inspirations to you, or has supported you, as an artist? You can also tell us why, if you want.

First of all, I'd like to thank my writer: ZatrianX (Ilverin). She has an account here, although rarely visits the dA.
Also all my close people support my creativity from the very childhood. Often they are even kinder to it than it deserves.
I also want to say thank to the wonderful and drop dead talented artists, whose works: a) plunge me in delight; b) drove me into depression, because I can't draw as well; c) create inspiration and confidence in my abilities.
I don't always notice the names of these masters (not only on dA), but I'm grateful for their work.

Would you like to use this space to give a feature to someone? Is there some artist(s) at dA you know, who doesn't have as much attention as they would deserve? If yes, could you give us some thumbnails from their gallery?

As a rule, I'm the last one who meet some cool artists. So by the time I see these stunning drawings, the whole drawing world already knows these people.

Is there something else you would like to tell to the fans of Tolkien and your art?

I'd like to say to everyone who like the Professor's works for many years: thank you very much for not forgetting your passion. And to those who have only joined our community: thank you for finding the Tolkien's world among today's broadest choice of universes and you have understood it, have become a part of us. Thanks to those who like (or not) separately characters. Thanks to all people who like my drawings and creativity of people close to me. It's so amazing when you find out that a person from the other side of the planet represents something just like you. Incredible feeling.
And of course, thanks to those who read that interview to the end, and to the one who waited for my answers in weeks :) (Smile)

Thank you for your time and answers!

Coding by Felizias Drawings by ebe-kastein Borders by PhoenixWildfire
© 2018 - 2021 MirachRavaia
Join the community to add your comment. Already a deviant? Log In
Wyzzel's avatar
She is awesome and was on my list for so long, but I never found time. Thanks for the interview, it finally pushes me to take a look and now my to-to is less and she got a new watcher haha! Really great works and nice interview!
hwaetmere's avatar
thank you very much!
EPH-SAN1634's avatar
Another great artist!